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June 22, 2012
Salman Butt, the former Pakistan captain who was convicted of spot-fixing, has returned home after serving seven months in prison. He arrived in Lahore at around 2.30 on Friday morning, exited from the airport lobby and spoke to reporters. He said he was not involved in any spot-fixing but claimed his mistake was not to report to the ICC when an offer was made.
Butt, wearing a green polo shirt and jeans, was surrounded by a crowd as he made his way out of the airport after being cleared by Pakistan's immigration authorities, and had to shout for walking space. "I have no links with spot-fixing nor I have never entertained any offer, nothing ever practically happened in a match that was linked to any offer," he told reporters. "Of spot-fixing or any fixing, I never asked anyone to do anything or bowl any no-balls, I am not associated with it.
"I apologised to the ICC for this, I did not report the events (in advance) between these two to three months because I knew the person. To the people of Pakistan, all the cricketers, those who support us and make us stars, I apologise - but for failure to report."
Butt was jailed in November for his part in the delivery of deliberate no-balls in a Test match at Lord's in 2010. Originally sentenced for 30 months, he was released seven months into his sentence under the UK government's early-release scheme for foreign nationals. However, it means he has been formally deported from the UK and cannot return to the country for 10 years.
"I am happy and relieved," Butt said upon his arrival. "No place like Pakistan. I want two to three days with my family and once I [have] that, I will hold a detailed press conference to answer all questions to clear my name from spot-fixing.
"I am thankful to all those who helped me in difficult times and I hope my tough days are over. I am desperate to see my second son, whom I've not seen since his birth." Butt's second son was born on November 3, the day he was sentenced.
Fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were also found guilty of corruption and accepting corrupt payments. Asif was released in May after serving six months of his 12-month prison term but he is still in the UK, planning his appeal against a seven-year ban from cricket. Amir served three months in the young offenders' institute and is currently undergoing rehabilitation with a psychologist in Lahore.
While Amir has decided not to appeal against the ICC ban, Butt said he was planning to. "I am consulting my legal advisers and will decide on when to appeal against the ICC ban." When asked what he wanted to do next, Butt said he wanted to make a comeback as a "good person, a good Pakistani and a good cricketer."
Mazhar Majeed, the agent who was accused of setting up the deal that was uncovered by a News of the World sting operation, was imprisoned for 32 months. He is the only one among the conspirators still in prison.
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